They say good things come in threes. Well, The Ultimate Productivity bundle is here to prove that cliché correct. The $199.99 bundle comes with a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone, a 12-minute Premium Micro Book Library, and a virtual private network, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited.
So if you’ve been looking to learn a new language and put a sizable dent in your ever-growing to-be-read list, now’s the time.
With the package, you’ll get Rosetta Stone’s class-leading courses across 24 languages; a book summary app called 12min, which includes more than 380 digestible book summaries; and VPN Unlimited to keep all your data safe while working from home.
Each item in this bundle can be downloaded or viewed on a variety of devices. Once you make your purchase, you’ll receive a code to unlock your lifetime access. From there, you can just dive in!
Rosetta Stone and the 12min app will walk you through the process of getting started. Rosetta Stone provides two dozen languages to select from and help you configure speech recognition, for example, and 12min will help you find micro books you’re interested in by offering a number of genres. VPN Unlimited doesn’t fall under the learning category, but it’s just as easy to use..
We’ve spent around a week with the social distancing bundle, so read on for our hands-on experiences with each one.
Once signed into Rosetta Stone, you can select from 24 languages to learn. Speech recognition technology is incorporated, so don’t be surprised when it asks you to use your microphone. It’ll also require you to choose whether you identify as a male adult, a female adult or a child. This is simply used to calibrate its recognition software. Eventually, you can practice with live tutoring. Once we were all set up and ready to go, we decided to try Hebrew.
Here’s how the courses take shape. There are 12 units, each of which covers a category like Past and Future, or Shopping. Within a unit are four lessons, which cover vital aspects of the unit’s subject like (in the case of Shopping) currency, cost and preferences. Every lesson contains what we’ll call sub-lessons. These focus on specific structures like grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary, to name a few. The sub-lessons are composed of five to 30 minutes’ worth of activities, and as you complete them, a progress bar will fill up to indicate your progress. Trust us, it’s straightforward and easy to start from the beginning or skip to future lessons.
The activities generally use images to depict an object or scene. These are geared toward learning grammar, filling in blanks with multiple choices or pronouncing vocabulary. It’s not always clear at first what an image depicts, but Rosetta Stone uses a number of images to make it apparent. During the writing lessons, you’ll hear a statement and write it in your selected language. We liked the variety of available activities, each of which built on previous lessons and units to help build your knowledge. And it’s easy to go back to review a sub-lesson or activity. There are even review activities in each unit.
We had a great experience with Rosetta Stone. If you already have some knowledge of a language, you can simply skip the lessons that you don’t need. With 12 units that are packed with lessons and activities, there is a lot to learn. And while this program doesn’t make you fluent, it definitely sets you up to have authentic conversations with native speakers.
You can select from a number of genres from the get-go on this app. These range from sports to career and business to science. Then you can select micro books to start. These are titles from your preferred genres, but after this selection, you can search for anything the app has to offer. When you open the micro books you want to try out, you can opt to read them, listen to them or even download them for later.
We tried out a few books that we’d previously read, including “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. We thought the micro book gave us an excellent summary. Essentially, it took the key historical moments of Jobs’ career, as well as prominent figures in his life, and boiled them down for us into a brief history. We also tried out “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin. Once again, the book is placed in a historical lens, noting Darwin’s achievements and the journeys he took to make his discoveries. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the micro book’s narrator breaking down key principles of evolution as well as Darwin’s experiments. Modern analogies were even tied in to help bridge the historical gaps.
We were impressed with this service. But, as it seems to stand right now, it is more about summarizing informative works than novels. We searched for “The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “Gone With the Wind” and “Of Mice and Men” and found none of these titles. You can suggest titles, however, and the inventory is always growing, so a lifetime subscription should prove fruitful.
VPN Unlimited is a virtual private network available for download on numerous operating systems, browsers and mobile devices. You can even configure it to your router. And once you’re subscribed, you can be logged into the service on up to five devices. If you’re not familiar with a VPN, you can read about them here.
VPN Unlimited is a standard VPN, and in the app, you’ll find a number of features you would expect from a VPN. This includes over 400 servers in over 80 worldwide locations as well as the quick connect feature. Quick connect will connect you, by default, to the most optimal server available — in other words, the server that will create the least latency. You can also select from a number of server protocols, which can add additional layers of encryption while sacrificing internet speed.
Our experience with this VPN was mixed, at best. For starters, VPN Unlimited does not feature nearly as many servers as, say, NordVPN. VPN Unlimited has more than 400 international servers, which is nothing to scoff at, but NordVPN hosts more than 5,400 of them.
We also found that, while we were connected to the optimal server, there was more latency than we experienced with NordVPN. We tested this by playing a 4K video without the VPN on, and then playing a different section of the video with it on. We also navigated around Google Docs with it on and off and found a negligible difference in speeds.
So while Unlimited VPN works for productivity, you may want to shy away if you’re looking to stream. Another unfortunate quirk of this VPN is that it appears to block internet speed tests, so we could not perform one.
This bundle is small but certainly diverse. We had a great experience with Rosetta Stone, which offers a plethora of languages and so many lessons that it’s basically an online class. And the 12min app, though limited to fewer than 400 micro books, provides awesome and informative summaries in bite-sized form. VPN Unlimited, while not the best VPN out there, is a nice bonus. It will serve your purposes if you need a VPN.
The Ultimate Productivity bundle featuring Rosetta Stone is available now for $199.99.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.